Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gear it up... Training for a Long Distance Race

Chalk it up to the “Biggest Loser” or maybe Al Roker running in the NYC marathon, but it seems like everyone I know is training or running marathons. This fall I caught the fever and decided to train for a half marathon. A couple of weeks ago I finally ran the race and it felt great. Getting to that point took a lot of sometimes painful and often boring training but I'm so happy I did it and it has totally turned me on to the world of long distance running.

If you haven’t run long distance races before and have thought about doing one it is important to know how hard it is on your body. I quickly learned that unlike my old routine 3 or 4 mile runs, a 10 or 11 mile run can totally wreak havoc on your body if you are not properly hydrated or didn't eat enough before hand. Even wearing the wrong shorts or socks suddenly starts to get super painful by mile 6 or 7 when an hour's worth of friction can give you a stinging cut. For smooth and painless training it is so important to invest in decent running clothes and the right gear. Luckily, I am a total sucker for athletic gear. Here is some of my favorite stuff for long distance running...

My Running Faves…
1. -- This website allows you to look at a local map and figure out how long your run is or plan out a run for a certain mileage. You can also browse other user's maps to get new route ideas.
2. Electrolyte tablets – I like this brand but you can find dissolvable electrolyte tablets at any GNC or good sporting goods shop. Once I started running over 7 or 8 miles my body would get really crampy afterward to the point where if I pointed my toes my feet would instantly (and painfully) cramp up. These electrolyte tablets are amazing --- they'll help you feel normal after an intense run without extra sugar or a gross aftertaste. I would also recommend them for hangover use :)
3. Handheld Water bottle --- Before my half marathon training I never ran with water. I usually only ran 3 or 4 miles and drank a bunch of water before. Once I started running longer distances I realized how much better it felt to drink on the run. That’s where this little bottle comes in. It’s lightweight and easy to hold. It has a little pocket for your key or some emergency cash and holds enough water for 6 or 7 miles. For longer runs I recommend #4…
4. Hydrabelt – Ok I know, you’ve seen people running around the park with these on and you laugh and say, "Dork!"… or maybe that was just me? But now I am a total convert! These are great! The design and fit of these belts makes them extremely light, comfortable and streamlined on your body. They carry enough water for long runs and have a little pocket for money, a key or some electrolyte bites.
4. Nike Plus pod- Boy do I love this thing. For just $60 you can get this cool Nike watch that has the ability to time your runs, tell you your pace and distance and then load these stats on to your computer. Each watch comes with the pod that goes in your Nike sneakers or in a little holder to strap onto your non-Nike running sneakers. I love this thing because it helps me be competitive with myself - to go at a faster pace or a longer distance.
5. Jelly Belly Sport beans – When you run 8 or more miles your body desperately needs a little sugar and a lot of electrolytes to keep it going. When I first started running longer I thought I could get away with just water and skip the sugar but I quickly realized that only left me feeling like total crap afterwards. Once I started putting a little gatorade powder in my water and chewing a couple of these guys on longer runs I felt SO much better during and after the run. There are all sorts of easy running fuel goos and chews but I like these beans since they are so small and easy to swallow. Plus they are yummy!

Enjoy the gear and more to come soon on my favorite workout clothes!

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